Keith Foster's three-decade law enforcement career came to an end last week when he resigned rather than submitting to an internal affairs interview. His future is now murky, but the government's case against him is becoming clearer. The indictment against him accuses Foster of distributing oxycodone four times between December and March. It also says he was part of a conspiracy to distribute heroin and marijuana. A 23-member grand jury agreed to those charges, but ABC30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi says the evidence doesn't have to be very strong to get an indictment.
"Doesn't mean it's enough for a conviction, just probable cause to believe an offense has been committed," Capozzi said. "That's it."
Foster's attorney tells Action News he's not at all surprised by the indictment. He expected it, and plans for Foster to plead not guilty Friday afternoon. But there's not much more he can say because he still hasn't seen most of the evidence against Foster. And Capozzi says federal prosecutors don't have to give up much of what they know before a trial.
"You're only entitled on the federal level to the statements the defendant made, any wiretap material that evidently happened in this case, any scientific evidence the government may have put together in this case and any evidence that may show that you're innocent," Capozzi said.
The indictment also added Ricky Reynolds to the list of defendants. He's a Shasta County 30-year-old accused of manufacturing the marijuana distributed. The FBI is making arrangements for him to turn himself in. The other six defendants are due in court Friday.
The Department of Justice released the following statement to Action News:
FORMER FRESNO POLICE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY CHIEF AND SIX OTHERS INDICTED FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
FRESNO, Calif. - A federal grand jury indicted former Fresno deputy police chief Keith Foster and six others today, charging them with a variety of drug trafficking offenses, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
In addition to Keith Foster, 51, the indictment includes charges against Randy Flowers, 48; Iran Dennis "Denny" Foster, 44; Rafael Guzman, 41; Jennifer Donabedian, 35; and Sarah Ybarra, 37, all of Fresno; and Ricky Reynolds, 30, of Shasta Lake. All defendants are scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, April 10, 2015.
The indictment charges Keith Foster with participating in three separate conspiracies to distribute different controlled substances over the course of the past year. Keith Foster is charged with conspiring with Randy Flowers to distribute oxycodone. They are charged individually in four separate counts to distribute, or possess with the intent to distribute oxycodone. Flowers is further charged with being a felon in possession of three firearms.
Keith Foster and Rafael Guzman are charged with conspiring to distribute heroin. Keith Foster is also charged with conspiring with Reynolds, Donabedian, Ybarra and Denny Foster to distribute marijuana. Reynolds is separately charged with manufacturing marijuana, and both Reynolds and Denny Foster are charged individually in various counts alleging distribution of marijuana. Denny Foster is also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Each defendant is charged in at least one count with using a cellphone in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. Finally, Denny Foster and Guzman are charged with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. U.S. Attorney Wagner expressed his appreciation for the hard work done by the FBI and ATF investigators in the course of the investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Melanie L. Alsworth and Dawrence W. Rice are prosecuting the case.
If convicted, the defendants face a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for the counts charging controlled substances other than or in addition to marijuana, a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the marijuana-only trafficking offenses, four years in prison and a $250,000 fine for using a cellphone to facilitate the commission of a felony, and a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
We'll have more information when it becomes available.
FYI on #KeithFoster: An indictment means a grand jury has looked at evidence and believes there's enough of it to go to trial.— Corin Hoggard (@corinhoggard) April 9, 2015
#UPDATE: The indictment adds a 7th defendant, Ricky Reynolds of Shasta Lake, who is alleged to have manufactured the marijuana sold.— Corin Hoggard (@corinhoggard) April 9, 2015